Syria War Hits Jordan as Soldiers Killed in Border Attack

  • Car bomb exploded early morning near frontier with Syria
  • Foreign minister says attack carried out by ‘terrorists’

A suicide bomber in a speeding, explosives-rigged car struck a Jordanian military post near the border with Syria on Tuesday, leaving six dead and 14 wounded, in the second attack on the kingdom’s security forces this month.

The bomb targeted a forward military post that offers help to Syrian refugees stuck in the no-man’s land separating the countries, the army said in a statement on its Facebook page. The bomber raced toward the post from the Syrian refugee camp as security forces fired at his vehicle, it said.

The army destroyed several other vehicles that also attacked the area early Tuesday morning, it said, without elaborating. It declared the border with Syria and surrounding territory a closed military zone. Any vehicles and people moving there without previous coordination will be “considered hostile targets,” it said.

More than 50,000 Syrian refugees are stranded in that border area. Jordan has limited the entry of Syrians, saying it has found many Islamic State militants among them.

King Abdullah II said Jordan will “strike with an iron fist” at anyone who tries to harm the country’s security, state-run Petra news agency said.

Although hundreds of Jordanians have joined Islamist militant groups in Syria, including Islamic State, the U.S. ally has largely managed to fend off the instability that has affected other countries in the region during more than five years of conflict in Syria. But its economy has suffered as more than 1.3 million refugees poured into the country.

Jordan’s economy is forecast to grow around 2.7 percent in 2016, less than the 3.5 percent previously forecast, due to the crises in neighboring Iraq and Syria, the country’s Finance Minister Omar Malhas said in April. He called 2016 a “very tough year for Jordan.” The kingdom and the International Monetary Fund have recently reached a staff-level agreement on a 36-month credit facility to help unlock donor grants and loans to support the struggling economy. Malhas has said Jordan expects the agreement to provide as much as $800 million.

Intensifying Attempts

“It seems the terrorists’ attempts to destabilize Jordan are intensifying,” said Adeeb Sarayreh, a retired major general in the Jordan Armed Forces. There have been many attempts to target the border guards over the past five years, Sarayreh by phone. “This time the terrorists succeeded in their scheme,” he said.

On June 6, five Jordanian intelligence personnel were killed in an attack on their office in the Al-Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp north of the capital, Amman.

In November, a police officer opened fire at a police training facility in Amman, killing two Americans, a South African and two Jordanians. After clashes with militants in the northern city of Irbid in March, Jordanian security forces said they had foiled an Islamic State plot to attack military and civilian targets.

“Terrorists strike again this time against our border guard,” Nasser Judeh, Jordan’s foreign minister, said on Twitter. “This evil will be defeated.”

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